Saturday, December 03, 2011

Always Stick on 17, or Stuck on Exit 17 as the Case May Be

Once upon a time, back in the misty era of Pete Rozelle, the news that an NFL owner was involved with a casino, however tangentially, would've been the only story in the league. Tense meetings would've been held at the league office. Editorials and sports columnists would've looked most askance at the proposal. Back then, Bob Kraft would've walked around town surrounded in a cloud of moral disapproval from the great and good of the sports world.

Now, scarcely an eyebrow is raised at the idea Kraft would let Steve Wynn build a casino across from Gillette Stadium and the rest of the Patriotsland theme park on Route One. Oh, the Globe's upset, but that doesn't count. Gambling, like most fun stuff, causes the higher-ups of the Globe acute distress. It's more proof our community just isn't worthy of them.

There'll be no moral disapproval here of the idea of a casino next to a football stadium. They're both public entertainments. I don't go to casinos, because I find competing against arithmetic to be dull as well as unprofitable, but that's just me. There are the usual bleats from Foxboro residents that they don't want the ambiance of their quaint New England village sullied by more traffic, which can be put down in the category "our opening bid, Steve." Really, where does Foxboro FIND these clucks? How can a homeowner say with a straight face that they didn't bargain for all the congestion and other issues posed by the Patriots? They didn't see the stadium when first looking at the town? The Pats have been there for 41 years. THEY'RE among the town's oldest residents.

But I do wonder if excellent businessman Bob Kraft has really thought this one through. The core of Patriotsland is, after all, the Patriots. Many a promising conglomerate business empire has suffered from letting its pursuit of new opportunities interfere with the profitable operations of the engine pulling the whole train.

When I saw the headline in the Globe yesterday about the Kraft-Wynn deal, an image immediately popped into my head. It was my memory of driving over 128 here in Lexington at about 5:45 p.m. the night of the Monday night game against the Chiefs. All you could see on the southbound side were headlights and taillights, all part of the traffic snarl created by the addition of football fans to the regular rush hour horror. Lexington, I should point out, is approximately 30 miles by highway away from Gillette.

So I fear that the most lasting impact of a casino in Foxboro might be that Pats' fans will have to start leaving for home games on Friday mornings.


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